House approves bill to change custody lawsby Sasha Aslanian, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The Minnesota House voted 80-53 for a bill that would change Minnesota's child custody laws.
The bill would add a presumption of joint physical and legal custody, which supporters say is necessary to correct a system they believe is stacked in favor of mothers.
Opponents argued that 95 percent of separated parents manage to agree on parenting arrangements, and adding the joint custody presumption would increase the level of conflict.
The bill's sponsor, Peggy Scott, R-Andover, said it will correct what she calls a huge injustice to children and families.
"We have 250,000 non-custodial parents in Minnesota and over a quarter-of-a-million kids that are living with very limited time with one or the other of their parents," Scott said.
"Let's put an end to the family law system as it is today. It's got many, many problems and many people for and against the bill on both sides of the aisle have acknowledged that."
The Senate is considering a companion bill. Gov. Dayton has not said whether he supports the change to Minnesota's child custody laws.
Debra Hilstrom, DFL-Brooklyn Center, argued that presuming joint custody was not the right solution for all families.
"Many of us know children who wait for that one parent to come pick them up, and that parent doesn't pick them up and they're disappointed," Hilstrom said. "I asked do you change the child support back if the parent is not actually fulfilling that 45 percent time, and the answer was no."